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Criminal Defence

Woodward Lawson are able to provide a high level of personal guidance throughout all forms of criminal prosecution in Aberdeen and elsewhere in Scotland. We provide expert representation in all types of criminal cases in the High Court, Sheriff or Justice of the Peace Courts.

Civil Litigation

Woodward Lawson represent clients in a broad range of civil court cases, both in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session.

Contractual Disputes

Contracts form the backbone of daily life in any business. Occasionally, difficulties arise in relation to what was actually agreed and disputes occur if one party does not do what the other expects them to do.

Guardianship & Incapacity

We have significant experience in relation to Guardianship applications both from the perspective of raising applications for Guardianship and also in opposing such applications in disputed cases. Ian Woodward-Nutt also regularly acts as a Court appointed reporter in relation to Guardianship cases.

Building Disputes

Whether you are a builder seeking payment for works which have run into difficulties or a client receiving possible defective building work, it is best to seek our advice at the earliest possible juncture.

Road Traffic Offences

Road Traffic Law forms part of the Criminal Law that is a broad and technically complicated area. If you have been charged by the police or have received papers intimating a criminal prosecution for an alleged road traffic offence, it is important to take advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer at the earliest opportunity.

Debt Collection

Every business encounters debtors from time to time and this can seriously affect important cash flow. At Woodward Lawson, we provide a robust one-stop service from seven day letters to pursuing court action in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session.

Property & Boundary Disputes

Few aspects of life can cause such concern as a neighbour asserting rights over your land or preventing you from doing something on their land that you thought you had a right to do.

Family, Divorce & Children

The breakdown of a relationship, be it marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation, leads to all manner of financial worries and practical difficulties as the inevitable change in your personal circumstances occurs. This is especially so if there are children involved and major assets require to be divided.

Road Haulage Representation

Woodward Lawson are pleased to offer representation in all matters concerning road haulage and transport law.

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Insight

News & Comment

Cohabitation and Succession Rights – 3

25 February 2016

As will have been seen from the first and second of this series of articles, the present law appears to be of limited use to cohabitees. Of course, there are arguments to the effect that (i) if people wish to have more extensive and clear rights, they should get married or enter a civil partnership or (ii) many cohabitations are short term or arrangements with little deep commitment. Leading on from that logic, it is argued that legislators should be wary of bestowing rights on surviving cohabitees to the prejudice or detriment of family members.

However, the world is a far more complex place in practice. The fact remains that people can devote a great deal of their lives and resources to cohabitation relationships and become dependent on their cohabitants on many levels within a short period of time.

These difficulties have now reached the point where the Scottish Law Commission have recently made recommendations to replace section 29 entirely with a new set of criteria. These are proposed as (i) length of cohabitation, (ii) the interdependence between the parties to the cohabitation and (iii) the surviving party’s contribution to family life.

Two matters arise from this.

Firstly, the factors appear to approach matters on a similar basis to the way that a court looks at divorces between married couples. It looks at what has actually happened in the relationship as opposed to levels of need at the end of the relationship. As such, at least, there is some parity approach with marriage and civil partnerships.

Secondly, however, there is still a general vagueness to the legal mechanism which could only be fleshed out in future caselaw. By implication, this is unhelpful to parties and their legal advisers at the present time. How will a court take a view on matters such as the level of interdependence and the level of non-financial contribution to family life?

Given the costs and risks involved in litigation in the first place, it is perhaps unlikely that a large body of caselaw will be built up over the short term. The level of uncertainty would be high unless the tests are made a little more detailed with a list of underlying factors for a court to consider. If this is not done, then there is a risk that any new legislation will not markedly improve matters.

As a final word in this 10 year review, the Scottish Law Commission has recommended extending the proposed cohabitee’s rights not just to situations where the deceased left no will but also to situations where there is a will in place. This would extend a surviving cohabitee’s right to a new set of circumstances. If that comes to pass, it will address the common situation where there is a neglect to change wills in line with the new circumstances of a relationship.